Posts tagged “david nightingale

Toned Monochrome Portrait

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/5920897034/in/photostream

Toned Monochrome Portrait 50mm, f/2.8, 1/250s, ISO 200

As I’ve mentioned in several posts I’ve been going through some awesome tutorials by David Nightingale (http://www.chromasia.com).  David has quite a few tutorials relating to the “creative process”.  He walks you through his thought process on sample images and explains the choices he makes — ranging from basics like cropping and minor cloning to advanced masking and application of adjustment layers.  I can’t recommend the tutorials highly enough.

To create the image above I used many of the things I learned from David.  He’d probably be horrified and have thoughts along the lines of “You’ve read/watched my tutorials and this is all you got out of them!” 🙂 Nonetheless I’ll briefly describe what I did to get this final image.

To start off, let me say that for this image I did not crop nor did I clone or do spot healing edits.  There is some work which could be done in these areas but I was focused more on trying to execute a certain “look”.  I’ve learned (from the tutorials and via experimentation on a half dozen images or so) that it’s rarely best to convert an image to black and white using a straight grayscale conversion or desaturation.  My main objective was to practice getting a “nice” B+W (or toned monochrome image — that’s technically what my final image is) using the channel mixer in Photoshop.

Here are the layers I ended up with:

Layers Used For This Image

The first thing I did was duplicate the background layer and change the blend mode to “soft light” at 72% opacity (played with the opacity until I liked it).  This gave this image a soft glow.  It brightened the skin significantly.  I did not want this effect on the eyes, hair, and scarf and you can see that I masked the background layer back into these areas.

I then used two channel mixer adjustment layers to get a monochrome image.  The first layer used values R:+43, G:+39, B:+18.  I decided that the background needed different look so I used the B+W with blue filter setting with R:0, G:0, B:+100.  Where did I get the numbers for the channel mixer layers? I experimented until I liked it. I won’t go into how the channel mixer works(because I can’t remember it all anyway) but the settings you choose can have drastic effects on your images. As a general rule of thumb you want your RGB values to add up to around +100 for a “normal” looking image.  I leave further theory/study up to the reader until I understand it better myself.

The first curves adjustment layer lightened the background to give more separation between it and my daughter. The second slightly brightened and added contrast to the eyes, lips, and teeth.  The third curves adjustment brought up the midtones and was masked only into the eye sockets and a small shadow area between the chin and lower lip.  This evened out the levels in the face.

Up to this point I was working with a true black and white image.  I wanted to tone the image a bit and I used the “Curves 3” layer to do that.  I brought up the reds a bit in the shadows and midtones and decreased the greens and blues in the midtones by adjusted the red, green, and blue channels individually.  There are endless toning possibilities using curves.  Of course, tools like Lightroom have many presets available that are often satisfactory but using curves gives you ultimate flexibility — you can change the colors infinitely and even narrow your adjustments to particular parts of your histogram.  Here is what the toning curves looked like:

RGB curves

The “Curves 2” layer darkened the image and was masked in selectively to add some vignette.

Here’s the image without the toning curves layer. There’s no right or wrong answer but I’m curious what others like — toned or full B+W?  Honestly I have a hard time choosing between the B+W and the toned image — I like both quite a bit.  I think the toned version works well with my daughter’s brown eyes and brunette hair color.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/5920887988/in/photostream

Untoned Image

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/5920897034/in/photostream

Toned Image


To HDR Or Not To HDR?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/5708714179/in/photostream

Stairs, Snohomish, WA (Non-HDR version) 70mm, f/22, 1/2s, ISO 100

You know HDR is a verb, right?  I didn’t realize until WordPress renamed my link that I’d used that title before (see that post here).  Which do you like most?  The non-HDR version (above) or the HDR version (below)?  There’s no right answer of course but my favorite is the non-HDR image.  I’d post them side-by-side but WordPress is giving me formatting fits…will update the post if I ever figure it out.

While in the Seattle area for a wedding last month my son and I went on a short photowalk in the little town of Snohomish.  Snohomish is one of those cutesy towns with shops for tourists and all that.  That morning it was just wet, dreary, and cold — somewhere in the high 30s with a stiff breeze to go along with it.  The wet and dreary thing makes for decent HDR conditions typically but the cold I could have done without, especially having had temps in the low 80s when we left Austin the afternoon before.

On our walk I grabbed some brackets of these stairs for a semi-abstract image.  It’s sort of urbex but maybe I’d call it “garden urbex” with all the moss growing (the stairs were surrounded by plants and flowers too).  The dynamic range frankly wasn’t very high but as I’ve posted before one can get cool images just going through the tonemapping process.  Last night I decided to process this scene but as I inspected the brackets I determined that using a single exposure would give me the image I wanted.  Part of that decision was driven by the fact that I’ve gone through a few of David Nightingale’s (chromasia) tutorials and was itching to try my hand at some things.  On a whim I took 5 exposures and did an HDR for comparison.  It’s not an entirely fair comparison though as I only spent a quick 5 minutes tweaking the Photomatix output.  However, I wasn’t really interested in trying to match the single exposure I processed.  Rather, I purposely processed it without even looking at the single image so that I would rethink everything as I went through the process again (albeit very quickly).

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/5709250674/in/photostream

Stairs, Snohomish, WA (HDR version) 70mm, f/22, ISO 100

Some details on the processing of the single-exposure image (shown at the top of the post):  I began with the intent of going black and white but as I played with the channel mixer I ran across some color settings I liked.  I ended up using -26 red, +129 green, and -7 blue.  I used various curves layers to tweak parts of the image to taste (see the screenshot showing the masks below).  All curves were simply adjusted on the RGB channel.  This image was ripe for some individual color adjustments but I only have so much time for all this photo stuff.

A quick rundown on the curves layers: the darken and s-curve layers were blended in normal mode and the s-curve went a little stronger on the highlights side.  The lighten and “curves 1” (forgot to rename it) were in luminosity mode and as you see from the masks, targeted very specific parts of the image.  Curves 1 was a very strong s-curve to bring out the contrast in the beam along the steps.  “Lighten” brought out a bit of detail in the wet shadows in the nooks and crannies.  I topped things off with a vibrance adjustment of +14 (the HDR image had a +25 adjustment b/c the curves layers I used didn’t bring nearly as much color as in the other image).

Non-HDR layers screenshot

Notice that the original (below) has a piece of peeled paint on the bottom step.  I cloned that out since it interrupted the edge of the frame.  It fit with the image but was just in the wrong place.  That’s the only cloning I did.

Cropping was difficult.  Not quite happy with it but I was less happy with the 17 other ways I tried.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/5708679587/in/photostream

Stairs, Snohomish, WA (Straight out of the camera) 70mm, f/22, 1/2s, ISO 100


Shells and Curves

http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaeltuuk/5669314279/in/photostream

Shells (right side shows post-curves adjustment) 70mm, f/6.7, 1/500s ISO 100

[Update: The photo above is a single photo were I masked in the original on the left side then drew lines as boundaries]

Padre Island National Seashore (PINS) is a favorite place for me and my sons.  There are over 60 miles worth of beach on which to camp, fish, and explore.  At the south end — 63 miles from the nearest paved road — the beach dead ends at the jetty protecting the Port Mansfield channel.  On the other side of the channel is South Padre Island.  The fact that 90% of this beach is only accessible by 4-wheel drive vehicles keeps it relatively unpopulated and generally one can set up a camp site which is out of view of any campers to the north and the south.  You get a couple miles of empty beach to play on.  One sad note is that there tends to be a lot of trash due to this being sort of a focal point for the Gulf currents.  On the bright side, some of the huge items which wash up would make for cool HDR.  Can’t wait to go back soon.

One of my younger son’s favorite stretches of beach consists of more shells than sand (pictured above).  There are sections of beach referred to as “Little Shell” and “Big Shell” because of this fact.  A shell hunter’s dream.  That son spends hours picking up shells and deciding which to add to his collection.

On the photo front I’ve been experimenting with curves more and I decided to play with some old shots taken along PINS.  The picture of the shells was processed in Photoshop with a single s-shaped curves layer in normal mode — no other adjustments.  Amazing how significant the change is.  It’s not that I didn’t already know what an s-curve would do in general but I didn’t expect that much improvement from such a simple thing.  I would probably tweak the final image a bit further to expose it and saturate colors slightly more but I show it as-is here to illustrate the effect of that one simple curves adjustment.  Sometimes a simple, unheralded type of edit works as well or better as our expensive Topaz/Nik/Whatever software packages.

Experiment for yourself.  Check out David Nightingale’s work and free basic curves tutorial too — he does amazing things with curves.